Ben Stiller plays an after-hours security guard in Night at the Museum, but the Upper West Sider never got to do what kids all over the city are eagerly awaiting: a real-life sleepover at the American Museum of Natural History. Launching on January 13, the museum’s overnight agenda begins at 5:45 p.m., when 300 kids and their grown-ups will find the perfect spot to roll out their sleeping bags in the Hall of Ocean Life. (In the test sleepover last month, our group was parked directly under the colossal blue whale, which inspired some spontaneous ceiling flashlight activity after lights out.) As the galleries are dimmed, overnighters will go on guided tours of the darkened, chilly planetarium and the Butterfly Conservatory, then wrap up the tour in pj’s and slippers with a flashlight scavenger hunt in the Dinosaur Hall. No, the dinos don’t come to life after hours, much to the relief of one little boy on the test night who asked his mother about the prospect of monster visits. But kids may opt for sneaky middle-of-the-night excursions. (We took a 4 a.m. romp ourselves, steering clear of the guards.) “We know what’s happening,” divulges Brad Harris, senior director of visitor services. “The whole museum is under surveillance, but we don’t want to make it strict. We don’t mind people wandering around. It’s one of those key experiences that kids will remember.”
Various Friday and Saturday nights; 5:45 p.m. to 9 a.m.; American Museum of Natural History, 79th St. and Central Park W. (212-769-5200 or amnh.org); $79 per person.